Albany, NY - April 20, 2016 - In the wake of the recent devastating earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today encouraged New Yorkers to donate to reputable organizations assisting in relief efforts and to avoid scams seeking to capitalize of these tragic natural disasters.
“Our hearts go out to the victims and families affected by the devastating earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan,” Governor Cuomo said. “In times of need, New Yorkers come together to help our neighbors, whether they be across the street or across the globe. I urge those wishing to assist to do so through a verified charity and to avoid those seeking to take advantage of these terrible international tragedies.”
Fraudsters posing as charitable organizations commonly seek to prey on those willing to help in the aftermath of major disasters with solicitations that divert much-needed aid from those who truly need assistance. These scams can include efforts to solicit money via telephone calls, mailings, social media posts and e-mails that lead to convincing, yet fake, websites.
The following New York-affiliated charities are assisting in relief efforts:
- Association for Aid and Relief (Japan) – donate here.
- CARE (Ecuador) – donate here.
- GlobalGiving (Japan) – donate here.
- Global Shapers (Ecuador) – donate here.
- Japan Society (Japan) – donate here.
- OxFam (Ecuador) – donate here.
- Peace Winds America (Japan) – donate here.
- Red Cross (Ecuador) – donate here.
- Red Cross (Japan) – donate here.
- UNICEF (Ecuador) – donate here.
Additional information about donations can be found on the Ecuador Consul General and Japan Consul General web sites.
Linda Machucha, Counsel General of Ecuador in New York said, “We appreciate the solidarity of New York’s diverse communities and are thankful for the multiple displays of affection and assistance given towards the Ecuadorian people during this difficult time. We invite all New Yorkers to join the efforts to bring needed help to earthquake victims in our country.”
Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi, Consul General of Japan in New York said, "I express my profound gratitude for Governor Cuomo's initiative. The Japanese people have never forgotten how kind and compassionate the people of New York were at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake five years ago. This earthquake in Kumamoto has claimed the lives of more than 40 citizens and more than 100,000 citizens have been evacuated. I believe that the warm friendship extended to us by the people of New York and the United States will again be a pillar of support for the affected citizens and the bereaved in Kumamoto, Japan."
Acting Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to victims of these catastrophes. Unfortunately, even in the face of such sad circumstances, there are opportunists who may seek to capitalize on these tragedies and we encourage the public to practice their due diligence when selecting a charity.”
Acting Secretary Rosado oversees the State’s Division of Consumer Protection, which tracks and investigates scams and apparent frauds to alert and educate the public on scam identification and response.
To prevent your donation money from falling into the wrong hands, the Division of Consumer Protection recommends taking the following precautions:
- Research the charity. Verify that the organization is registered with the Internal Revenue Service. Find out the charity’s mission, program and finances, as well as its experience and track record of success dealing with certain types of disasters in specific regions by searching the New York State Attorney General's online database of registered charities at here, and by visiting websites such as www.bbb.org, www.give.org, www.charitynavigator.org and www.guidestar.org in addition to visiting the charity’s website.
- Designate your donation. Find out what percentage of your donation will directly go toward the cause as opposed to administrative costs. Ask the charity whether you can designate your donation to a specific effort rather than a general contribution fund.
- Resist high-pressure tactics. Watch out for direct e-mails from “victims” and solicitors who employ heart-wrenching stories, insisting that you donate immediately. It is strongly advised not to give money over the phone to unsolicited telemarketers, and instead ask the caller to send written materials about the charity.
- Do not disclose personal or financial information. Never give your Social Security number, credit card or debit card number or other personal identifying information in response to an unsolicited charitable request.
- Avoid giving cash. Give your contribution by check or credit card to ensure that you have a record of the donation. Make checks out to the charity, not to an individual. If you choose to make a donation via a charity's website, check that the website is secure and that your computer is equipped with the latest anti-virus protection. Do not send contributions with a "runner," by wire or overnight parcel pick-up.
- Don’t assume. Check an organization’s tax status here to find out if the donation is tax deductible.
For more information on recent consumer scams, visit the “Scam Alert” page on the Division’s website.
If you desire more information regarding scam prevention and mitigation, please contact the New York Department of State, Division of Consumer Protection at (518)-474-8583.
Follow the New York State Division of Consumer Protection on Twitter and Facebook.